Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hanukkah at Beansprouts

I just love the holidays and the built-in curriculum that goes along with them.  Here is what we did at Beansprouts this Hanukkah season:

Shoe box lids make great dreidel platforms as they keep them contained.  It was also fun doing on the table and doing spin passes to each other.

Candle crowns adorned with foil stars

The wooden menorah with wooden candles was fun and meaningful once they had seen us light the real menorah.

We also made a new Hanukkah candle work for number matching, counting, and one to one. They used the helper candle (or shamash in Hebrew) to light the other candles.

 We made latkes on the 8th day of Hanukkah.

 One of the families brought these great styrofoam dreidels with plastic colored pins.

 A menorah collage

 Making the star of David with triangles and decorating with glitter.

Each day at circle time we would light candles for Hanukkah.  We don't know the prayer to sing so we sang "This Little Light of Mine" while the teacher lit the candles.  We would let it burn during circle and then in a very untraditional manner would blow them out at the end of circle for "safety".  During circle, we would also sing different Hanukkah songs in English and Hebrew and occasionally talk about what our Jewish families do at home to celebrate the holiday.  We tried to keep the focus on spending time with families because sometimes the history behind the holiday is hard for them to understand.  By next year we will be able to give more meaning to the miracle of the lights.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Helping or Hindering

An out loud reflection:

We give the kids words as tools.  Then we teach them how to appropriately use those tools to be successful in communication.  This isn't just a preschool tool, it's a lifelong tool.  I firmly believe I am helping my students to be successful in life simply by guiding their social development here at preschool.  That being said, I recently observed a scenario that made me second guess how often I am coaching the kids to use their words.

First I observed this exchange:

"Can I play with you?"
"Okay.  Can I have a turn when you are done?"

Sounds great doesn't it!  I love when the kids use their words and it works!

Here's what happened next:

A different child walks up to the same group and just starts playing.  No questions asked and he is immediately accepted into the group and part of their game.

I can't say for sure, but I'm guessing that if that child had asked to play, the answer would have been, "No!"

Both kids are building social skills.  Is one more successful than the other?  More developed socially?  What about future social skills?

Both kids are doing what has been working for them.  Maybe this is just a question of development and age appropriateness.  I know teaching them to ask as a way to engage in play will benefit them in the long run.  I also know that learning to acknowledge and respect the boundaries of others will come in handy in so many other ways.  But, maybe just that once, I wish the first child didn't use their words.

The lesson for me is that I need to teach a balance of jumping in with both feet and proceeding with caution.  The best way for them to learn is to just try it out.  I will be here when/if they need me.


Wrestling is good for children.

Originally published Sept 2010 Many of our parents seemed shocked when they came to pick up their children from Beansprouts and found the...